The Rating System

I've come up with my own rating system based on a wine grading system but modified for Rum. The final rating will be a number between 0-100, the total of the following six categories:

Appearance (0-5): Rum is an experience of the senses, and it begins with sight. From the color, purity, and consistency of the liquid to the bottle itself, this is a general critique of the initial presentation.

Aroma (0-25): The aroma from the bottle, from the glass, spalshed with water, as it hugs ice or is mixed with other drinks should be appetizing and inviting and offer hints of what's to come. More points are not necessarily given to complexity, though full, interesting, varying, and complementing aromas do help the grade.

Flavor (0-35): Obviously, the most important category. The quality of the array of flavors are judged. As with the aroma, I will try to pinpoint the contributing flavors and judge how they complement one another. I will establish how sweet the rum is, or isn't, and if the sweetness is balanced with the rest of the flavors. Here, complexity plays a bigger role, but essentially this is a critique of how palatable the rum is.

Smoothness (0-10): This is almost a continuation of the taste category. Here I will judge the rum's smoothness and harshness. Although good rums should of course have a nice bite, drinking rum should be a pleasant experience.

Body (0-5): This category is relating to the liquid's general texture and fluidity as it is consumed, and should be generally consistent with rums of the same type. For example, a dark rum should not be thin and wispy as true aged rums become thicker, richer, and more concentrated in the aging process.

Overall Quality (0-20): This is the capstone category, taking all the rum's characteristics and judging them as a whole while taking into account any additional intangibles. Despite flaws, a rum has an intrinsic quality that is a result of special and careful care in its creation. This category will take this into account. But ultimately this is the category where I determine how much I personally enjoyed the rum. It's the final analysis that determines whether it was a pleasurable experience that I would like to try again, or not. This category will likely be the one with the greatest bit of personal bias. So please note that being Cuban, my tastes tend to lean to the sweeter rums (hey, we sometimes put sugar in our beans!), but overall I simply enjoy quality.

Some sites and magazines use a rating up to 100 but even sub-mediocre rums get an 80. As respectable and insightful as those reviews may be, I find that rating system to just be a waste of range. So keep in mind that if one site rates a rum in the low 80's whereas I rate the same bottle in the upper 60's, it doesn't necessarily mean I enjoyed it less.

The rating scale is as follows (a variation or difference of a few points is hardly definitive, so please consider the ratings accordingly):

100-90: Exceptional. Among the best in the world.
89-80: Highly Recommended.
79-65: Recommended.
Acceptable as mixers or if options are limited.
Not recommended; avoid.

Ratings subject to change as I try new rums, and re-try old ones.